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7 tips for winter climbing Original post: Sat 2/20/2021 at 10:06 PM

We have asked the professionals for advice on how to learn to climb in the middle of the harsh winter.

When winter comes it's hard to beat the temptation to go to a climbing wall for indoor climbing.


The indoor climbing is fantastic for winter but is not the only option we have when temperatures drop. You might even discover the best bouldering routes . Another possibility, conditions permitting, is ice climbing.


Here are some tips from the pros for winter climbing , as well as a few tips for indoor climbing.


1. Do your homework

"Climbing in winter means a lot of different things to people," says Robbie Phillips , an elite British climber who recently took on the Dawn Wall .


Robbie emphasizes that if you are going to climb, especially after it has rained, you will have to learn the technique to tackle wet rocks. There will be some places that you can go and others that you should avoid.


“I live in Edinburgh, not far from there there are two areas to practice bouldering. Both sites are fantastic, however if it has rained it is impossible to go to one of them. The reason is that the stone is sandstone and is likely to break when wet . Which means to cause erosion quickly. It is something that from the ethical point of view must be avoided ”.


“Basalt, on the other hand, is a harder type of rock and dries very quickly. It can rain all night and after an hour it has dried up. So it is a good choice for when it has rained ”.


"Especially those who start in this sport should know what is the ethics of climbing, especially when the rock is wet."

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2. Make sure you warm up properly

Once you have decided where you are going to climb, when you get there you will have to do the proper warm-up to prepare the body for the cold.


“When it comes to bouldering in the winter, the most important thing is to warm up and stay warm. When you cool down you run the risk of injury, ”says Robbie.


“Sometimes the rock is not completely dry and you may find wet spots. They are usually on the easier climbs where it tends to get hot. In those situations warming up becomes more difficult. So I use a multi-deck board to warm my fingers, it only weighs 500 grams and it fits in my backpack ”.

Another method is to find holes in the rock and hang from them. Do various exercises for about 15 minutes. The objective is to warm up the body but without over-exerting itself ”.


3. Use dry rock on the most difficult routes

If you have little experience in bouldering, you may think that it is best to spend the winter doing indoor climbing. But sometimes winter is the best time to try the toughest outdoor routes.


" When the rock is dry and cold it's time to try climbing, " says Robbie.


“In winter you have to avoid wet rocks because they slip. But if they are dry and cold, you will sweat less. They are the best possible conditions ”.

4. Bring gloves or mittens

“What I can't forget are the gloves. I think that one of the best investments I have made has been to buy mittens, as they allow you to move your fingers inside to improve blood circulation. 


The rock is so cold that when you touch it it takes the heat from your fingers . So when you put your mitts back on you warm them up, which is very important, ”says Robbie.


"A stress ball is great for keeping your fingers warm and active."


5. Benefit from knowledge of the local community

The local community can help you figure out the best place to climb and which areas are suitable when it is raining.


“I met a group that had the same concept of climbing as me. I made a lot of friends, ”confesses Robbie.


“If you are going to spend the day outside, a couple of hours from where you live, you have to know what kind of rock you are going to find. You have to be informed. Is the rock still wet? How long will it take to dry? The people of the area can help you a lot when it comes to clearing these unknowns. So you can choose the ideal place at all times ”.

6. Don't be afraid to try new disciplines

French climber Liv Sansoz is a legend after having crowned the 82 mountains of more than 4,000 meters in the Alps.


For her, when it comes to climbing in winter, the best thing is to adapt to the weather conditions and try new disciplines.


“In winter you find mixed routes with ice in some sections. When it gets cold, what I do is ski and climb those routes, ”says Sansoz.

“You have to start with something that is at your level and then go little by little. Your fingers are not the same in winter .


 You need to be patient. Nobody knows better than you what you can do. Choose something really simple at first. "


7. Climb with a bunch of friends

In addition to the obvious security reasons, climbing with more people has a huge impact on the bottom line. So choose well the people who are going to accompany you .


During the project of 82 mountains of more than 4,000 meters, Liv climbed with 22 different people and really that was what made the adventure so special.


"In the mountains there are many things that make me happy but there is nothing more special than sharing that experience with the right person," he told us.

“I think that for me it is more important who I go with, than the climb or the mountain itself. Climbing an almost impossible wall alone is fine, but it is much more wonderful to face an easier route with someone I really love, ”confessed Liv Sansoz.



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